To watch Fr. Joe’s homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time: CLICK HERE!
The story is told of Alfred Hitchcock being disappointed at the small portions at a private dinner party. When the host said to him, “I do hope you dine with us again soon.” Hitchcock replied, “By all means, let’s start now!” (Obviously, his hunger had not been satisfied, eh?”)
In today’s first reading, the Israelites are hungry. They are truly in need of physical nourishment and God provides for them by sending then food in the form of manna.
In the Gospel, however, the people searching for Jesus are no longer physically hungry. Today’s passage follows immediately after the miracle of the loaves and fish that we heard last weekend.
Jesus knows that the people looking for him, having had their physical needs meet, were now free to hear and receive the Good News that Jesus had to offer them: the bread of life, a relationship with them
Notice what Jesus does. He starts from the ground up. Jesus meets their personal needs before he offers them “true food,” the bread of life that was his very self.
Many people today observe, lament, wonder where all the people are in our churches? Reasons or thoughts prevail, but maybe, like Jesus, we need to ask again and again and again what are the needs of this person… this single mother; this teenager; this widower; this homebound person; this frazzled parent; this stranger at our door?
Jesus’s example suggests we meet the very real needs of people again and again. Needs like food, clothing, shelter, health care, time spent with a lonely person, a caring presence, a comforting word, a supportive word… Needs like time spent with another.
Maybe the picture on the front cover of today’s Bulletin says it well, “We often underestimate the power of regular conversations – over coffee or a meal – to change the hearts of loved ones and strangers.”
Almost sounds like something Jesus would say and do.
We all hunger in some way or ways. Christians throughout the centuries have not only joined together to satisfy the numerous hungers and needs of others, but so have individuals, like ourselves, who take time as a person or family to bring others closer to Jesus, by making a friend and being a friend to another.
May we continue to do as Jesus did in his time, here in our time, individually and collectively meeting the needs of others and eventually, offer others the true bread from heaven that God provides: a living relationship with Jesus Christ.